Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Inn at Eagle Point by Sherryl Woods

*Tap Tap*

Is this mic on?

Whoaaaa.  Heyyyyy!  Long time no "see".

So I just finished The Inn at Eagle Point, which is the first book in the Chesapeake Shores series by Sherryl Woods.  I wouldn't classify these as romance novels, but this first one was definitely a drama and romance thrown in to one... is that a dromance?

I liked this first book enough that I'd like to continue with this series.  It's about an Irish family that lives along the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland.  I love the Bay, and I love Maryland, and so this series is meant for me! :)  I also enjoy series book (like the Alex Cross series!).  The Inn at Eagle Point is mostly about 2 sisters and a man, of course.  Abby is Jess's older sister and someone who stepped in to assume the role of "mom" when theirs walked out on them as children.  Abby resides in NYC full-time, but has to return to her hometown to help her sister get the Inn on it's feet.   The man's name is Trace and I won't tell you which girl he likes :).

You can certainly expect to see more of this series from me in the future!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Snowflower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See

I was told that if I liked Memoirs of a Geisha, then I could be sure that I'd like Snowflower and the Secret Fan.  I'd have to agree with this assessment.  I loved Memoirs of a Geisha because I learned a little bit about a culture that I was not at all familiar with.  The same is true for Snowflower.  Foot-binding anyone?

If you've read this book, then you know what I'm talking about!  I am SO glad that in our culture, women are not treated like they are in China (at least at the time period that the book was written - I have no idea if these same practices take place today).  In short, and this is by no means a direct quotation from the book, women are practically valued as nothing.  They exist as servants, as baby makers (you better have a boy!), and women are essentially used by men as a means of social status and as a way to secure their family's financial future.  But I'm getting a little bit ahead of myself here...

Lily is the storyteller of this novel that takes you all the way back to her childhood. She shares the story of her life and how she came to be known as Lady Lu, the 'queen bee' of the wealthiest family in her county.  Lily's family was not well off, and it was up to them to ensure that they took all the right steps to get Lily married off to the best family possible.  One way to help secure a decent marriage was to have the tiniest feet possible - enter foot-binding.  Lily's feet were bound (and I have to show pics here so you can see exactly what this is all about...)

The term was 'lily feet' - get them as small as you can get them!

Marriages could be arranged for you even before you became a teenage girl.  Auntie Wang, a marriage arranger, pays Lily a visit one day and finds that she has extraordinarily bound feet.  She decides to set Lily up with a laotang, meaning "Old Sames".  This is an extremely tight knit bond between women, and something that can also make you more desirable for marriage.  The laotang Auntie Wang chooses for Lily is Snowflower. 

Thus the story begins of two little girls who formed a stronger bond than even a man and wife could ever conceive of having in their county.  Snowflower is a story about friendship and the challenges all relationships face at various points throughout their history, including deceitfulness. This book will teach you a lesson about the importance of forgiveness and selflessness.

Have you read this?  What did you think?

Next up - Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil - in preparation for our summer vacation to Savannah, GA! 

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Shack by William P. Young

I'd heard a lot of hype about The Shack and I was hoping it was going to move me like The Five People You Meet in Heaven or the Lovely Bones - two of my all time favorite books.  What can I say - I'm apparently in love with books about death and images of heaven!

The Shack is hard to read at times because the overall story is sad.  Mack, the father of several children (I was never clear on the exact number), takes at least three of his kids on a camping trip.  Mack describes the day that the "Great Sadness" set in as one that never even got off on the right foot.  From the very beginning, he messed up breakfast over the campfire, and as he was trying to get that under control, his son and daughter were out on the lake in a canoe about to embark on danger.  The canoe flips over and the son goes under water, while the one daughter Katie yells for help.  Mack bolts to the lake and quickly realizes the dilemma - his son's life jacket strap is caught in the canoe, preventing him from coming up for air.  As Mack works to free his son from drowning, another tragedy is taking place.  His youngest daughter, Missy, was kidnapped during the canoe fiasco.  What are the chances of such disasters occurring simultaneously?  A mad search ensues and the only thing the authorities find is Missy's bloodied dress laying on the floor of a dilapidated shack in the woods. 

Three years pass and the Great Sadness has not even began to leave Mack's heart and mind.  One day, Mack receives a note in his mailbox, signed by "Papa", asking him to return to the Shack.  "Papa" also happens to be the name Mack's wife uses to refer to God.  After some deliberation about the note, Mack sets out on his quest to return to the Shack.  Shortly after Mack arrives, he's introduced to three people: Elousia (Papa), Sarayu, and Jesus.  These three actually make up the Holy Trinity.  So Mack goes on a journey with these three variations of God and learns several things about himself and about Missy's death. 

The book ends as a Jodi Picoult novel would - with a twist! 

I liked the concept of the book and I found a few things in the book that really spoke to me.  Still, at times I found it confusing to follow along with what the three versions of "God" were actually talking about.  Overall I give the book 4 stars out of 5!     

Monday, May 2, 2011

Water for Elephants - The Movie

Friday evening Joel & I went to see Water for Elephants in theaters.  I was pleasantly surprised at how well the movie mimicked the book, in my opinion.  I think that Reese and Edward (I know it's Robert, but he'll always be Edward to me) did a great job portraying Marlena and Jacob.  Scenes that were particularly hard to watch were the beatings of Rosie (the elephant) and Marlena and just generally watching August act they way he did.  There are very few times when I feel a movie does a book justice, and this time the movie producers prevailed! 

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Sex and the City... and a d-bag alert

I cannot imagine that any of us will be purchasing this gem, Deer in the Headlights: My Life in Sarah Palin's Crosshairs, due out this fall.

On to more exciting things, the creator of Sex and the City, Candace Bushnell, is coming out with her second novel chronicling the teenage years of Carrie Bradshaw.  It's entitled Summer and the City, taking us through Carrie's first experience in the Big Apple where she meets up with her cousin, Samantha and new friend Miranda.  This is supposedly a teenage book, but it won't stop me from eventually reading it :). 

Friday, April 22, 2011

Cat & Mouse by James Patterson

I knew you wouldn't let me down Alex Cross! (Of course, I owe this all to Katie....)

I never thought I'd like murder mysteries.  Then I met Alex, fell in love, and the rest is history!

First, you must read the series in order (in my opinion) to get all of the back stories that end up permeating throughout each book.  I mean, Jimmy does do a great job of summing them up everytime a prior book's storyline is referenced, but they're such page turners you should just go ahead and read them all.

Now, on to Cat & Mouse.  This is a continuation of Along Came a Spider, and the 4th book in the Cross Series.  Alex is faced with hunting down former villain, Gary Soneji.  Almost all of the book takes place in Washington, DC with a few trips to places like NYC, Princeton, Boston and even Europe.  Of course, there is always a twist with Cross novels, always!  As usual, Patterson keeps the chapters short and sweet, but the page turning remains addicting.  Now, go ahead, go figure out who did it!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

M.orr Than a Bag

A friend of mine from the Motherland recently started her own business making these cute, custom photo bags. The name of her business is a sweet spin-off of her name: M.orr Than a Bag. I've known Megan since I was in high school, and I got to know her a little better as we worked together at the locally owned drugstore. Megan is a wonderful young lady - very intelligent, thoughtful, and an all-around nice person.

one of her latest creations (photo inserts on left side)

She is also a proud military wife and mother of two. Her husband, also my childhood neighbor, is a member of the United States Navy. Megan talks about the inspiration behind her bags on her website:

I am a proud Navy wife and mother of the two most amazing babies, Noah and Avery. We recently moved to New York as my husband is now a recruiter in Oswego. Since he joined the Navy in 2006, we have moved four times. While we do enjoy change and seeing new places, the military has made it difficult for me to reach some of my own goals.

I recently realized that I needed to stop adapting my dreams to fit his schedule and that, perhaps, the plans I had for myself hadn't worked out because I was going in the wrong direction. As much as I love being at home with my kids, I wanted to find something new that I could accomplish for myself.

It's no secret to anyone who knows me that I love taking pictures, but I also love showing them off, and that's what led to the idea of photo bags. I picked out some cute fabric and just started experimenting. With each bag I make, I learn something new. I love each one more than the last, and I would love for the next bag I make to be yours!

If you're looking for a unique gift for someone special (birthday, mother's day, baby shower, etc), or even just yourself, please stop by her site, 'Like' her on Facebook (M.orr Than a Bag) and have a look around! She works with you on fabric choices and add on's.  She also offers a 10% discount to all members of the military & their spouses!

*Megan has no idea that I just promoted her on my blog - this was my own doing to try to get her business some publicity.*

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Oh How I Love My Tea!

Yesterday I read about a recent "scandal" involving Three Cups of Tea author Greg Mortenson.  I was so shocked to be reading what I was reading - that this book was all a lie?!  I absolutely loved this book! 

(If you've never read the book and are interested in what it's about, please check out my post here.)

In a very big summation of several articles and the video, CBS/60 Minutes is alleging that a lot of what Mortenson says in his book is untrue and/or highly exaggerated.  For example, CBS claims he never got lost on his hike up K2  (which is what ultimately lead him to writing the book) and that he subsequently never built the schools, or at least not as many schools as he claimed to have built.  CBS also managed to interview some people who appeared in photos in his book.  One such photo was a picture of "Taliban" men who captured him and held him hostage for several days.  When CBS asked one of the men in that photo if he was a member of the Taliban, he denied it.  (Though, wouldn't you deny if it you were a member of a highly controversial organization?  Just sayin'!) Also, CBS, in conjunction with the American Institute of Philanthropy, closely scrutinized the Central Asia Institute's financial statements and deduced that much of the money raised for the building of schools in the Middle East had been used to fund Mortenson's travels within the U.S. in order to promote his book and raise additional funds for CAI.  You can find the full report/video on 60 Minutes.

Yesterday, I also received an email from Greg Mortenson talking about this breaking news on his popular book.  (I get emails from him because I donated to his organization, the Central Asia Institute). Here is some of what he said:

"The Board of Directors and I made the very difficult decision to not engage with "60 Minutes" on camera, after they attempted an eleventh hour aggressive approach to reach me, including an ambush in front of children at a book signing at a community service leadership convention in Atlanta. It was clear that the program's disrespectful approach would not result in a fair, balanced or objective representation of our work, my books or our vital mission. We also turned down a last minute request for an interview with Jon Krakauer.

     The "60 Minutes" program may appear to ask simple questions, but the answers are often complex, not easily encapsulated in 10-second sound bites."
Greg later went on to say that he is currently suffering from a hole in his heart, and is about to undergo surgery, and this also contributed to his reason for not speaking on camera.

While CBS does make some compelling arguments, I don't want to believe them.  In regard to the amount of money spent on travel expenditures for raising money for CAI, and how more money was spent doing that than building schools, I think it's somewhat justifiable.  "You have to spend money to make money".  You have to spend money to promote this organization (CAI) and awareness of what it does in order to raise money in order to build these schools.  Also, it says in the book numerous times, which I'm sure is very true, that the cost of building a school over there is FAR less than what it would be to build a school in the U.S.

What do you think about all of this?  Do you think Greg is fudging the numbers for his own benefit, or do you think that this could be a case of jealousy - haters of Greg and his mission and being jealous/angry/some-other-emotion about his success and is trying to take him down?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

My Crazy Cat

My cat is a lunatic.  Just look at how Joel found him this morning...

"This is the life, man."
Still, he's hard not to love!  Happy Tuesday!  Two days in a row of 365 Project posts!  I'd love to get back on track!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Springtime is Here!

Thursday I took this picture as I was leaving work.... how beautiful are these flowers?  I love springtime!

Then when I got home I took these from our backyard... just wild daffodils popping up everywhere!


All taken with my measly 5 MP Blackberry Camera!

I'm now 36% through Cat & Mouse.  Like all Alex Cross books, this one is a page turner.  But while I'm not reading, working, or signing up for 5K's like a maniac, I can be found diligently working my way through Lego's Indiana Jones with Joel - all of those games are SO addictive!  Enjoy the work week!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Hungry Girl Cooking: Eggamuffin 101

When my friend Katie first introduced me to the book/movie Julie & Julia, I thought "what a brilliant idea!" - cooking your way through an entire cookbook, why didn't I think of that!  Since that book/movie first came out, Katie and I have been throwing around the idea ourselves.  I don't intend to become the next "Julie", but I do have a TON of cookbooks that I'd like to get through, and so this past week I made the decision to get started cooking my way through them.  The first book I'll be using is Lisa Lillien's 1st cookbook - Hungry Girl.  While I've already made several dishes out of this fun book, there are still a plethora of them waiting to be chopped, blended, measured and baked!  Still, I'm only planning on making the recipes that I'll actually eat - Lord knows I'm p-i-c-k-y!

Courtesy of here.

My focus this week was on breakfast and dinner.  While one does not really need a recipe to make this breakfast item, it was in the cookbook and alas, I made it.  If you're not familiar with Lisa's technique, she basically finds ways to help you enjoy your favorite foods that are typically high in calories/fat/whatever.  Her spin on the below breakfast sandwich is a variation of the Egg McMuffin from McDonald's.  I'm giving you the exact recipe, but I've told you how I made it my own also.

EggaMuffin 101 - 6 PointsPlus
- 1 regular size Thomas' Light Multi Grain English Muffin
- 1 slice Kraft Free fat free American cheese - I used 1/8 cup of 2% shredded cheddar cheese
- 1 slice Healthy Choice Smoked Ham (or other lean, thin-sliced ham) - I used 2 slices of Butterball Turkey Bacon
- 1/4 cup of Egg Beaters

Cook the Egg Beaters in a pan using non-stick cooking spray and toast your english muffin. Once toasted, place the cheese on the bottom half of the bread, followed by the egg, a slice of ham (or bacon), and the top of the muffin. Enjoy!

My work-week breakfast!
A special thanks to Katie for introducing me to this whole idea!  It has helped motivate me to get through all of my cookbooks!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Scoot Over Skinny: The Fat Nonfiction Anthology

I'm just going to cut to the chase here so that your time is not any more wasted than mine was by reading this book - it. was. TERRIBLE.  From the moment I started reading this book I knew it was going to be a struggle to finish it.  I expected inspirational stories from current and/or former overweight people.  However, this book was basically just stories about interactions with fat people, or fat people giving their negative stories about how society has perceived them.  Each chapter had a different author, and some of them were written so philosophically that my eyes were burning with each word I read. 

I give this book a half star out of 5 - biggest waste of my time ever! 

I've had too many so-so books in a row and I just had to redeem myself with a guaranteed 'goody'... I'm reading the 4th book in the Alex Cross Series - Cat & Mouse - by James Patterson.  I know this book will deliver exactly the page-turning cravings I've been desiring!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Welcome to the World..

I present to you the newest addition to my family - my nephew Rexon Vernon S.  He weighed in at 8 lbs 12 oz and 21 inches long... born March 23, 2011... the same birthday as our beloved uncle - may he rest in peace.

365... as often as I feel like it

Yoouuuuuuuuuuu..... light up my liiiiffffeeee.... Starbucks - I do <3 your new logo!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Day ? of 365

I took a trip to Chick Fil A yesterday for lunch... and I found this little gem and it absolutely made my day!   I swear it tasted better in this little packet!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Rain, Rain, Go Away.. Day ? of 365

I kid, I kid!  I love it more than anything when it's a rainy day and I get to be stuck at home... reading or doing whatever my little heart desires...

It is, in fact, a rainy day here in Maryland, though not near as bad as some other parts of this country who are experiencing flooding. 

Enjoy your Thursday!

From last week's rainy Sunday @ a nearby State Park

Monday, March 7, 2011

Day 31 of 365

This was Friday's 'happy pic'... look how cute and tiny!  I believe it's a mini-cooper old school.. and the guy driving it looks huge inside!

Friday, March 4, 2011

There's No Place Like Here by Cecelia Ahern

I'll admit it, I judge a book by it's cover ALL the time.  That is definitely one of my top ways for deciding on what book to read next.  When I purchased this book, I had just returned from my 3 months of living in Kansas City, MO (aka "The Land of Oz") and was still on a high from everything Wizard-of-Oz related.  I had to buy this book based on the cover alone!

So, show of hands who have lost the mate to at least 1 pair of socks in their lifetime?  Yeah, me too - so many pairs I can't even count!  In fact, it used to happen so frequently when I lived with my parents that I insisted on doing my own laundry because I had those few pairs of socks that were my absolute FAVORITE and I did NOT want to lose them!

So how does this all relate to the latest book I've read, "There's No Place Like Here"?  Well, it's simple.  "There's No Place Like Here", by "P.S. I Love You" author Cecelia Ahern, is about Sandy Shortt, a girl who is practically haunted when her things go missing.  This obession began whenever her neighbor/childhood enemy suddenly went missing, and Sandy simply could not come to terms with where this little girl went.  Still, Sandy is also consumed when less important things like socks, books, teddy bears and toothbrushes go missing as well.  Eventually, Sandy makes a career out of her desire at finding things.  She becomes an investigator for the police department, and eventually opens her own business looking for missing people.  The irony is that one day Sandy, herself, goes missing and suddenly discovers all of the missing things she's been looking for her entire life! 

I admit that the storyline here was a little unusual for me, and I can definitely appreciate something different!  In fact, I believe that many of my favorite books of all time are, in fact, my favorites because of their unusual stories.  Still, Ahern did not grab me with this book at all.  I didn't find myself having the "don't want to put it down" feeling until the last 15 pages!  I give this book 2 stars out of 5 translating to "it was 'ok'". 

Next up is "Scoot Over, Skinny: The Fat Nonfiction Anthology".  I bought this book about 3 years ago on the bargain table at BN or Borders.  In some ways, I do enjoy reading about people's reasons for being 'heavy' and so hopefully this book will be an interesting read. 

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Day 30 of 365

Why hello there....

Today's 'made me happy' moment is brought to you by St. Ives Soothing Oatmeal & Shea Butter Advanced Body Moisturizer.  I recently bought a travel size version of this to keep in my purse, used it 1 time and LOVED the affects it had, and immediately bought a big size to keep at work.  My hands look like sandpaper in the winter months.  When I finally ran out of the other lotion I was using, which didn't have such great results, I tried this stuff and was hooked.  It smells great, which is a plus for me, but it also WORKS really well.  It makes my hands really soft, but not at all greasy.  Plus, I love the packaging :). 

The weekend is fast approaching... do you have any plans?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Day 22 of 365

So much for posting everyday!  This pic is actually  meant to be for Day 18 or 19, but it's making it's way on here for today, Day 22, because when I look at it, it does make me happy still!  This picture was taken via Joel's cell phone and texted to me over the weekend.  He's on vacation this week in Florida and shared this lovely pic with my envious self, stuck in the north with cold, snow and freezing rain. Goodbye 70's, hello Motherland weather! 

Even though it hasn't been a full week since Joel has left for the bachelor party, seeing him here makes me smile (even though a gator is right behind him!).

Friday, February 18, 2011

Day 17 of 365

I've found that people are automatically in a better mood when we're graced with a few warm sunny days in the middle of winter.  I know I'm automatically happy when Doug Hill says: "It's going to be a high of 70 tomorrow!"  and it's mid-February!  It's days like this that God gives us to help us make it through the cabin-fever season.  As I write this, my work day has come to an end and I'm sitting outside of Starbucks enjoying my afternoon in the sunshine!  A customer just walked by, wearing shorts mind you, and asked me: "Would you rather have a few teaser days like today, or not have any of this at all until winter is officially over?"  Teaser days for me aplenty!  He agreed :).  I hope you all enjoy your weekends wherever you may be.  I will be heading back to the Motherland for some family time, a baby shower, and a dentist appointment.  Here's to a joyful weekend!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Day 16 of 365

Another beautiful day in the nation's capital!  Can you see that the sun is shining?  Well, it is! Tomorrow will bring another nice day, which I hope to exercise my privilege of working at home by working at Starbucks outside!

Day 15 of 365

This picture is showing 2 of my happiest moments yesterday, though it's hard to tell.  I got home and realized we had another 60 degree afternoon (showing the outside), and second, it's Charles - he almost always makes me happy!  This is a pic of him intently gazing at birds and squirrels I'm sure.  He looks so content and old here, but seconds later he was running around like a maniac-kitten that he is!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Day 14 of 365

For Valentine's Day, Joel and I offered our services to the local Ronald McDonald House.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Day 13 of 365

I'll get back to days 11 and 12 - they are on another camera!  However, how AWESOME is this on Valentine's Day!

Day 10 of 365

How behind am I on this??? Anyhow - love seeing PA in MD!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Day 9 of 365

My beloved Sheetz Hot Chocolate, need I say more?

Day 8 of 365

I forgot to take an actual picture of yesterday's 'thing that made me happy' so I had to go searching for one online instead.  This is my beloved Arc Trainer, which I was first introduced to at Penn State's White Building.  We fell out of touch over the years and have recently reconciled....meeting up for 5 PM jaunts at my neighborhood's gym.  This little guy packs a big bunch for me in just 30 minutes... burning 700 calories, as opposed to my former lover, the elliptical, where I could only reach just over 400 in that same amount of time.  I love it so much because I really feel as though the tension has left my body by the time I'm done with it.  Here's to you Arc Trainer, and many more 5 PM dates!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Day 7 of 365

An organizer's dream machine!  Who knew how much I'd love this little gadget.  Thanks to a coworker who has left our office, I am the proud owner of this handy Brother label maker!  You can see the first label I made: "Pegasys".  Now I won't have to mess up my pretty file folders with the Sharpie....

Day 6 of 365

I love Tosti Asti Champagne.  Charles loves their 'hat'..... while he sleeps on my Vancouver Olympics gloves.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Day 5 of 365

I love bird watching.  Lately we've been having a few cardinals and blue jays hangin' around outside, and they are so fun to watch.  They're both such beautiful birds.  So I got the bright idea to get a bird feeder - I've already had the pleasure of seeing the little guys eating out of it!

they like to hang out on the compost container
not cool Squirrel man, not cool

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Day 4 of 365

I <3 the Library... even if I have to be there on a Saturday morning studying for my nursing classes...

Friday, February 4, 2011

Day 3 of 365

Charles HATES having his picture taken.  Can you tell?  But Cha-Man still makes me happy just the same.. no matter how annoyed he looks :)

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Steeler Siting in DC!

Feb 3...on the Metro

The 365 Project

A friend of mine on Facebook (shout out to Amanda should you ever stumble to this blog) started doing this 365 Day Project.  She explained to me that each day you post on Facebook something you've eaten, bought, did, whatever... throughout one year.  I liked this idea a lot, thinking it'd be a great way to actually SEE your memories throughout one year.  I decided to participate in this 365 Project, but with my own spin on it.  Each day I'm going to post a picture of something that made me happy that day.  So here goes!

Yesterday (Feb 2), I had lunch at one of my favorite sandwich shops....

The Turkey Slim goodness!

Monday, January 31, 2011

Certain Girls By Jennifer Weiner

Have you ever read a book that you couldn't WAIT until it was over because it was so dull, yet were glad you finished reading it because the last 30 pages just blew you away?!  Well, that was my experience with Certain Girls by Jennifer Weiner.  Certain Girls was the sequel to Good in Bed.  Both books focus on Cannie Shapiro, a Philadelphia native and writer.  In Weiner's first book, Cannie struggled with her weight and the affects it had on romance.  But by Certain Girls, Cannie is happily married, and her baby from Good in Bed is now a teenager in Certain Girls.  For almost 3/4 of the book, the main plot appears to be all about Joy, Cannie's daughter from a former lover.  Joy is your stereotypical teenage girl - wants nothing to do with her mom and everything to do with trying to be the popular girl at school - or at least hang with the popular crowd.  She hides things from her mom, lies, takes unsupervised excursions, and attempts to uncover the history of her mom's famous book.  Joy's dramas went on and on and ON for a good portion of this book, with a little Cannie drama here and there.  I was definitely getting fed up because the storyline seemed to be going no where.  Come on Jennifer - I fell in love with your books and now you're letting me down with Certain Girls!

BEWARE FOR SPOILERS (If you're going to stop reading here, thanks for stopping by! :) )

However, as I was desperately trying to blow through Certain Girls so that I could mark off my last book of 2010 on GoodReads, all of a sudden everything changed!  Cannie's beloved husband dies of a heart attack out of NO WHERE.  This was just the turning point I needed to get myself hauling through the remaining chapters last night. 

I cried.... I cried a lot.  I actually don't think I would have been so emotionally affected had I not just experienced something similar this past year.  At the start of the chapter when Peter dies, Cannie is describing how nice of a day it is - she is gardening, it's baking outside... a typical summer afternoon in the Motherland.  Up until she receives the dreadful phone call, life for Cannie is normal.  (Well, as "normal" as normal can be these days.) 

I actually remember this same description of a day in April 2010... it was a beautiful Spring day in Maryland.  Joel and I were just coming home to my apartment after working hard at his house.  The sun was shining, the windows were down in the car.. and then suddenly I received a phone call you couldn't possibly think would ever happen on what appeared to be such a glorious day.  And life as you know it will forever be changed.  You will always remember what life was like before the accident, then after the accident.  I imagine that is exactly how Cannie felt as she visited her deceased husband in the hospital that afternoon.  It brings tears to my eyes just writing about it and reliving it mentally.  A heartbreaking, yet hopeful, ending to the story was that Cannie and Peter were actually in the process of conceiving a child via surrogate.  At the time of Peter's death, they did not know the status of the pregnancy.  However, just a few short weeks pass and Cannie learns that the surrogate is pregnant with a boy.  Can you just imagine?  I'm speechless.

I gave the book 3 out of 5 stars on GoodReads.  It did have a suspenseful ending, but overall I was still not impressed.  But Jennifer, you've written a lot of books that I really enjoyed so I won't give up hope with this one!     

Friday, January 14, 2011

Charlottesville, VA Roadtrip!

On Saturday, January 8, Joel & I set out on our road trip to Charlottesville. For those who are unfamiliar with this "charming" little town in Virginia, it's claim to fame is that it's the home of Thomas Jefferson (Monticello), and also the area in which the University of Virginia resides.  I've been wanting to take this trip to Albemarle County for quite some time now, and alas the day finally came.

The trip took 2 hrs 45 min for us.  As we continued getting closer to Charlottesville, the vast Shenandoah Mountains provided a lasting view for miles.  It was so cold both days (below freezing!) and as we traveled we could see snow falling in the mountains.  I always took the mountains for granted before - growing up in the western Pennsylvania region where what I refer to as "hills" Joel insists are actually "mountains".  The Blue Ridge Mountains gave us a great backdrop for almost the entire trip.

We arrived in Charlottesville late in the afternoon, and after checking in to the hotel, we headed out to explore what the "Downtown Mall" had to offer.  Unfortunately it was so cold that neither of us could hardly stand to be walking around outside, but the Mall area did look intriguing with all of the shops (used book stores - yikes!) that I failed to browse through.  Instead, we opted to spend an hour milling around a wine shop, on a search for Tosti Asti (champagne), and left with many other bottles of wine, beer, mugs and a new champagne to try (it did not disappoint!).  We dined at the College Inn (the pesto white pizza was bangin'!), and then later downed some of our purchases from the wine shop.

On Sunday we woke up and had breakfast at The White Spot (I love all these college food joints!), and then drove around UVA's campus.  I have to say, I was highly disappointed in UVA's bar scene.  I kept saying to Joel, "There has to be more than this!".  I guess Happy Valley is the only place who knows how to do it right :).  We did check out UVA's Rotunda - one of their well-known buildings on campus that goes all the way back to the time Thomas Jefferson founded the school. 
The Rotunda w/ TJeff
Joel acting like it's his house!

We had lunch at Padow's Hams & Deli before we headed to Monticello - the home of Thomas Jefferson.  Monticello was AWESOME. 
holding hands with the little Lego's Man outside the deli

What a beautiful home!  I just couldn't get over how amazing it was - built on top of a large "hill" overlooking Charlottesville.  It offered amazing views, beautiful grounds (which I'm sure look much better in the spring/summer/fall), and an architecturally savvy home.  Imagine building something this grand back in TJeff's time... just imagine people!  I loved it AND the guided tour - I would strongly recommend this if you ever make it to Charlottesville.
TJeff & I before the trip to his house

Downtown Charlottesville from Monticello
neat tree on the tjeff property - the branches grow down to the ground

leaving Monticello
We finished off our trip with a stop at the Thomas Jefferson Vineyard, and finally headed back to Mary-land.

You May Also Like: